Happy Monday to all of you, and it is a happy day indeed because it is one of my favorite days of the year – Earth Day!  If you’ve been reading the blog a while you may have gathered that at times I can be a bit of an eco-nut.  This mentality was engrained in me from an early age, and every year around this time I try to evaluate our lifestyle and habits, recognizing what good things we are already doing and what areas could use some improvement.  There are some things we’ve been doing for a long time, such as recycling everything we can, drinking from reusable bottles and cups, buying meat, poultry and eggs from a local butcher shop with sustainable farming practices, and using reusable grocery and produce bags.  Things we have been focusing on over the past few years include making as much food as we can from scratch, including many kitchen staples, to cut down on waste and processing.  Over the past year I’ve also been slowly working on my Let’s Do Lunch series to encourage people (myself included) to bring a delicious, non-boring lunches from home to ward off the temptation of eating out frequently.

We’ve gardened many years before but last year we got a little more serious about it by building some raised beds (they make such a difference!) and starting to compost.  Late last summer was my first foray into canning and I loved it.  This summer I plan to make that into more of a routine so we can really stock up and rely more on home preserved foods when needed.  In addition to canning more, my other goal for this year is to really cut down on our paper product use.  We do okay but we could definitely be better, especially with two messy kids running around.  Last week I took advantage of some sales and stocked up on a whole bunch of  fabric napkins so we can stop grabbing paper towels (purposely not choosing enticing patterns so I will not be tempted to “save” them for photo shoots – ha!)  We have also been using biodegradable Skoy Cloths for some time, thanks to a great reader suggestion a few years ago, and they have also helped cut down on paper towel use.

I’d love to hear more about your eco-minded goals this Earth Day!  If you are looking for some suggestions, be sure to check out a few of my past Earth Day posts where lots and lots of readers offered fantastic ideas.

And of course, no Earth Day would be complete without some giveaways of eco-friendly items, right?  See the links below for some awesome prizes:
RuMe Reusable Grocery Bags – 4 winners
Sigg Water Bottles – 5 winners
Flip and Tumble Produce Bags – 5 winners

Green Bean Delivery Gift Certificates (Indy residents only) – 2 winners
Moody Meats Gift Certificates (Indy residents only) – 2 winners

  • We have made cloth napkins and that is all we use. I will also start canning for the first time this summer. We also just got baby chicks and will have our OWN eggs in 6 months!

  • I love that you always celebrate Earth Day, Annie. Such a good reminder for us all!

  • If you want to get away from paper products a lot of stores on etsy sell re-usable snapping paper towel sets. They snap together to form a roll that you can put on your paper towel dispenser, so it’s just as easy to use only without the paper waste. I’ve been considering it, plus they come in all kinds of pretty fabrics!

  • LisaR @ Who Stole My Baby?

    I wish I was better at caring about the Earth. I seem to forget a lot. It doesn’t help that our stupid city makes you PAY to recycle things. But you know that’s just an excuse. Time for me to suck it up and pay the fifteen bucks a month.

  • annieseats

    I know, it totally sucks when cities make you pay to recycle. I grew up in a city where recycling is free but you pay per trash bag. Now we have to pay to recycle. But, I consider it an absolutely necessary expense and it’s one bill I feel good about paying because I know it’s for a good cause.

  • annieseats

    I’ve seen these before but wasn’t sure how practical or functional they actually are. Time to look into it more!

  • francesca_vitale8@hotmail.com

    Great giveaways! Look forward to this post each year. You inspire me to be better! Can’t wait until we have a house so we can plant a garden. So much fun!!

  • Kelsey Keag

    I have stopped using new plastic produce bags at the grocery store – I either go without or bring bags from home. It’s small. but every little bit counts!

  • AK Matthiesen

    I just have to comment–I do think patterned cloth napkins hide the inevitable ketchup/mustard/blueberry etc. spots that little kids (like mine) manage to get on them. The lovely light, solid colored napkins that I got as a wedding gift (what was I thinking when I registered for them?) just sit on a shelf….

  • annieseats

    Oh yeah, some are still patterned, and none are light. I just mean as a blogger, anything pretty will not be used by the family :)

  • Kim

    Hi Annie, I just wanted to pop over and let you know that I enjoy all of your posts…but the earth days ones make me extra happy! We frequently turn to your blog for tips to make our home (especially our kitchen) more sustainable – our most recent favorite “policy change” is cooking and freezing bulk beans instead of buying canned. Thanks for blogging!

  • annieseats

    Aw, thank you! I love to hear you’ve made that change, and so glad you enjoy these posts :)

  • Caroline L.

    Happy Earth Day! What a beautiful planet we live on… we are so blessed and really do need to do a better job of taking care of her. We compost and try to eat in as often as possible, and living in California – bags when shopping cost money, so people usually use reusable ones! Great post – thank you :)

  • Emily Kleeman

    For kid napkins I use old baby washcloths. I keep a stack of them in the dining room. I prefer these to prettier cloth napkins since they take so much abuse.

  • NaDell Ransom

    I’m celebrating Earth Day by giving away several strawberry plants to friends because mine have spread out so much they are taking over my whole garden. It’s better to give them away than have them buy new (from who knows where) or for me to throw good plants away. =)

  • Brittany D

    I was just thinking that I needed to purchase some of the reusable produce bags. Thanks for the link!

  • Kathryn

    As a high school teacher when I have to make paper copies, I have not only focused my language on “throw that in the recycling bin” but I hear my students saying it too since they hear it so often!

  • Just ordered some Skoy cloths – I’ve ruined too many pretty tea towels wiping down the counter! I’m already looking forward to canning this year myself :)

  • Tasha Fontenot

    I have had a paperless kitchen now for close to two months! With eight year old twin BOYS I wasn’t sure it was doable. BUT, no sweat! Because of their age and not being so messy (sure sometimes they are) it was much easier than I thought. I pick up cloth napkins everywhere. Yard sales, Goodwill, etc.-much cheaper. And of course look for sales for new ones. I keep a new set in reserve for guests. BTW cloth cocktail napkins are a great size for children-Amazon.
    Also I finally started using reusable shopping bags. Feel so much better.
    Now I am on a hunt for a homemade cleaner for mold and mildew.
    Simple Living has been a new theme on my blog this year. A goal I continue to work on daily. And making sure my boys realize every day is an Earth Day.

  • erin mansfield

    You are the only blog I read that made a post about Earth Day. I am glad that I’m not the only person that loves Earth Day. I love reading all the comments that readers leave with even more earth friendly tips, too!

  • Anne Schofield

    I ordered the skoy cloths but was never happy with how they retained smells, and how small the ones I ordered were. The reusable cloths at Trader Joes are very similar and in my opinion much better. They wash out better, are bigger, and are cheaper. I am not sure how biodegradable they are, which is a plus for the Skoy version, but in a house with almost 5 kids, we need the bigger, cheaper options where possible.

  • Anne Schofield

    And by the way, what a beautiful garden! Ours is currently just raised beds full of compost, with no seeds even started. I would love to hear your gardening tips. Whether you plant seeds outside, or do starts inside, how to get the compost to compost better, how to protect your plants from hungry caterpillars and the like, etc.

  • Audra

    I got involved with an eco friendly company this year, I loved their products so much that I started selling them myself! I have been able to get rid of all of my nasty cleaning chemicals and paper towels, etc. they are microfiber cloths that are embedded with silver so you only have to clean with water and the silver will kill any of the germ or bacteria it picks up! I think that is the coolest part about it but they work so amazingly well too which is also pretty exciting! It saves my family’s health, our beautiful earth, time and money. Here is the website if anybody wants to look more into it http://www.audramortensen.norwex.biz
    I love earth day and I love doing what I can to save our planet! It’s so fun to see everybodies ideas!

  • annieseats

    Did they still smell after being washed in the dishwasher? We haven’t had any smell issues.

  • Shannon

    We stopped using paper towels a while ago. Without them being available, it forced us to find other ways to clean up. We have designated washrags for kitchen spills and such, a small bin of inexpensive baby washcloths to clean up our 18m-old twins and their messes, etc. It’s totally doable and requires very little extra laundry!

  • annieseats

    Good call. I think we just need to not buy them and then we’ll figure out other ways to make it work. Good for you!

  • Gillian West

    Hey Annie, this popped up in my reader today and made me think of you! Have you seen/used this yet??


  • annieseats

    I haven’t, but I’m intrigued. Thanks!

  • Jill Reading

    What a fun giveaway! We are avid gardeners here, and I can and freeze whatever I have an abundance of. I also grind my own wheat and rarely buy pre-made or pre-packaged foods.

  • Sonja / A Couple Cooks

    Yay, Happy Earth Day! Thank you for posting about this, and encouraging us all to take positive steps forward! That is such a cute pic of you and Andrew with the raised bed — and your gardens look awesome! XO

  • Kevin

    I strongly recommend you remove the pressure treated wood for your raised garden bed. The chemicals used in that lumber are nasty stuff, and will leech into your soil and food. There are articles out there if you want to look into it. A better alternative would be cedar.

  • annieseats

    Thanks for the info.

  • Diane

    Do you use the square foot gardening method? I’ve been trying it for a couple years, but I haven’t had a lot of success. I think the biggest reason is that I have very limited space (no yard, just a concrete patio in back) and live in Southern Utah where it is very dry and very hot. Hoping I can figure something out soon so we can grow our own produce!

  • annieseats

    No, I have no real method. I probably should but I just do what seems right at the time I’m planting. Good luck with your garden!